16 May 2014

World Cup protests in Sao Paulo

8:13 am on 16 May 2014

Protesters in Brazil demanding more spending on social projects and housing instead of the World Cup have begun a day of protests in cities across the country.

Anti-World Cup protesters in Sao Paulo.

Anti-World Cup protesters in Sao Paulo. Photo: AFP

They have blocked main roads into Sao Paulo, burned tyres and caused severe disruption during rush-hour in Brazil's biggest city, the BBC reports.

Activists have also called a day of protests in 50 cities across Brazil.

The scale of the demonstrations is expected to give an indication of the security challenges the government may face during the football tournament, which starts on 12 June.

The protesters say they want the government to spend billions of dollars on social projects, transport and housing, instead of the World Cup.

One of the biggest protests in Sao Paulo took place in the city's Itaquera district near the Arena Corinthians stadium, which will host the tournament's opening match.

Protesters there demanded housing, and not stadiums, be built in accordance with Fifa standards, in reference to world football's governing body.

Among the demonstrators are groups that have occupied land or buildings after being forced from their homes by high rents.

The government has tried to downplay the scale of Thursday's unrest, arguing it was not related to the World Cup.

The planned protests coincide with a range of strikes, including by the police force in the north-eastern state of Pernambuco.